31 Days of Horror: Day 20: “The Witches” (1988)

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The Witches comes to us from across the pond as director Nicolas Roeg displays his creativity in this fantasy film that is a great October treat. If you are gearing up for Halloween, but want to save the slashing and gore for another night, then The Witches may just the the lighter film to fit this niche. You will follow the little boy, Luke, and his grandmother, Helga, as they take off on an adventure with some less than desirable witches. The European shot film is one that should be watched for a few different reasons.

The effects and work by Jim Henson are amazing. This was sadly his final film, but his work will live on forever. The puppetry and make-up effects were out-of-this-world and adds a lot of production value to this film. The witches have a great look and I wold love to know more about the design process and how long it took to create these creatures. Along side these Jim Henson creations can be found some fun and quite memorable actors. The witch of all witches is played by the very talented Anjelica Houston. Her performance is top notch as always as she is the perfect fit for her character. We also have a Mr. Bean sighting with Rowan Atkinson playing the role of Mr. Stringer. I kept thinking of watching him on PBS playing his well know Bean character. I was definitely taken out of the film a few times with flashbacks, but overall I was just fine with him being featured in the film.

The cinematography is by far my favorite part. I am a huge fan of the shot selection and choices made by the filmmakers and could witch this over again just for inspiration. Although it was released in 1990, I enjoyed the zooms as it gave it more of a vintage feel. The dutch angles and just all-around odd camera positions helped give The Witches a distinct look. I would love to hear from seasoned DP’s on their thoughts on the cinematography. The shots used will not be for everyone, but I found them to be creative and fun.

So, as we near Oct. 31st, try out The Witches and enjoy some great visuals and have a fun time with it. Don’t expect blood and guts, save that for Michael and Jason to deliver.

31 Days of Horror: Day 19: “Texas Chainsaw 3D” (2013)

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D is a movie that can be evenly “sawed” in half between the good and the very, very bad. Daddario is easy on the eyes as our heroine Heather but she is stupid as hell and doesn’t seem to be smart enough to put anything together before the audience does. A late act reveal involving her character and another character is meant to be shocking but it is obvious from the moment we meet this person that they are nothing but trouble. Heather and her friends are stupid and honestly deserve to die. They make all of the typical horror movie mistakes. Let’s check out the basement! Let’s stop while running so the killer can catch up with me! But, as soon as..SPOILER ALERT: all of Heather’s friends die…the film becomes shockingly successful and the last act has a rush of adrenaline that is shockingly missing from the rest of the film.

When we are given the final twist (if you don’t get this at least a half an hour before it happens, you need to give up your horror card ASAP), I was rooting with Heather as well as the movie instead of passionately against it. Who knew that all Heather’s friends had to do was die in order for her to grow as a person and actually, shockingly, become likable. The deaths are hit-or-miss with a torso cut horizontally in half being the highlight and a terrible CGI death involving a meat grinder as the very low point. As bad as the first thirty minutes of this film are (the fire is laughably bad CGI from the early days of Nintendo 64), the last hour is definitely worth checking out. Don’t miss the final scene after the end credits. It is a gem of dark comedy that is missing from the rest of the film. In the end, this Massacre isn’t bad as it is forgettable. This blade definitely needs sharping.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 19: A Horror Movie That Disappointed (Return to Sleepaway Camp)

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This movie could have been a return to the campy fun of the original or the more splatstick tone of 2 & 3. Instead it tries for both and fails miserably. Why bring back the original cast if you aren’t going to give them anything to do? Why make your lead the most unlikable character ever created? Why create a whodunit twist ending that makes no sense whatsoever? So many unanswered questions. This one sat on the shelf for three years…there is a reason for that..

Midwest Indie Chiller “Still” Needs Your Horror Support

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Chicago independent filmmaker Jason Coffman has launched a Kickstarter to help complete his debut feature film project currently in production, a psychological thriller/horror film entitled “Still.” Heavily influenced by 1970s female-centric genre films such as George Romero’s “Season of the Witch” and Robert Altman’s “Images,” “Still” is being pitched as “‘La Jetée’ meets ‘Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.’” Funds raised will go toward completion of the film and 2014 film festival submission fees. Incentives for donors include early streaming access to the completed film, a limited-edition hand-painted 2x-CDr set of music by Chicago artist Cinchel, a limited VHS edition of Coffman’s previous short film “TAPE,” and much more.

Alice (Heidi Foland) is a young woman living in Chicago with her cousin Craig (Jason Coffman) and his girlfriend Hannah (Amanda Hiese). Alice is excited to find a new job where she can put her artistic skills to use, but after a late evening she and her co-worker Carol (Stephanie Leigh Rose,Final Girl from Slasher Studios’ very own Don’t Go to the Reunion) are attacked in an apparent robbery. Alice wakes up days later to find that she now has an extremely rare neurological disorder called akinetopsia (or “motion blindness”). While Alice tries to deal with her new perception and get on with her life, she finds herself plagued by strange dreams and possibly followed by a mysterious figure. What do these nightmares mean? Will she remember what really happened in the office the night of the attack? Who is following her, and why?

Heavily influenced by female-centric 1970s genre films such as George Romero’s “Season of the Witch” and Robert Altman’s “Images,” “Still” is a unique psychological thriller that employs a simple but effective mechanic reminiscent of Chris Marker’s “La Jetée” for presenting Alice’s motion blindness. The soundtrack for “Still” features Chicago-based artists Cinchel and Vapor Lanes/Karaoke, as well as Via Vegrandis (courtesy Flannelgraph Records) and Northism (based out of the UK), with a score by Andrew Horton (Poplar Halls). The film is being shot on both digital video and analog film in a mix of color and black & white photography, and uses low-tech techniques to obtain unusual visual textures and effects. “Still” is currently in production and slated for release in Spring of 2014.

To become a backer on the project today: “Still” Kickstarter
To check out the official trailer: http://vimeo.com/76670356

“Carrie” (2013) Remake Brings New Blood to Familiar Story

In the remake of the original Brian De Palma film, and based off of the novel by Stephen King, Carrie tells the story of young Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) who goes through life being tormented by classmates and teachers. The only person she feels close to is her religion-obsessed mother Margaret (Julianne Moore). After a cruel joke, one of the popular girls, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) decides to provide an act of kindness to Carrie by allowing her boyfriend to ask her to prom. But along the way, Carrie starts to develop telekinetic abilities that could bring disastrous results if she’s pushed too far.

I believe that to compare this remake with the original and say which is better would be completely wrong and impossible. Both films have very strong aspects of their own that make them both able to stand on their own. But to discuss this version as a remake itself, I would definitely have to say it was VERY well-done. The film really gets into the emotional side of the story, we really get to know Carrie and get a sense of her loneliness. This in part is due to an excellent performance by Chloe Grace Moretz in what I really think is her best performance to date. She portrays the emotions of Carrie with such ease that you really feel for the character and think of her as a real person. But when it switches gears and her evil side appears, Moretz provides a very chilling performance. We are also given Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother. From the start of the film and until the very end, Moore shows just how unhinged Margaret White is, and she does it perfectly. Her performances leaves the viewer really unsettled with her dead and haunting performance. As for the effects, unfortunately this remake is filled with a lot of CGI. Does it completely ruin the film? No. But it does take away a lot of the effect. The prom scene for example, while much more violent (which I was pleased about), the CGI was really noticeable. But despite this, some of the effects combined with amazing camera shots is very well-done. One example being when two characters are involved in a car crash, the impacts in the crash were very cool (and slightly disturbing) to watch.

So overall, Carrie is a very well-done and perfectly modernized remake that lets us get in touch emotionally with our lead, plenty of bloody moments, and most of all, amazing performances by Moretz and Moore.

–Cody Landman

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Horror Movie Challenge: Day 18: Movie Others Hate/We Love: Halloween II (2009)

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I know that most horror fans seem to despise this movie but I find it to be a beautiful shot, misunderstood gem of a horror film. I admire Zombie for not doing a straight up remake of the original sequel and I like how you actually are able to see the emotional grief that the first travesty has caused its characters. We are able to see Laurie and Annie as real, flesh and blood characters that are each trying to deal with this travesty the only way that they know how. It’s not a perfect film (the horse imagery is out of place to say the least) but it is an ambitious film and that’s more than you can say about most horror movies today.

31 Days of Horror: Day 17: “The Pact” (2012)

“The Pact” centers around a young woman named Annie and her struggle to piece together mysterious happenings in the home she lived in as a child. With the death of her mother and the disappearance of her sister shortly after, Annie, played to perfection by Caity Lotz, returns home only to realize that she is not alone. With strange bumps in the night, she flees the house, but returns later and is forced to take a closer look into dark past of her family.

With stunning cinematography and effects, The Pact, gives more spine tingling chills than most of the supernatural films that have been released lately. With suspense setting in just minutes into the film and not letting up until the credits roll, audiences will be holding onto their seats for the entire ride. With the disturbing imagery coupled with some excellent editing and direction, the hair will stand up on the back of your neck throughout the film. The film contains minimal gore, but the blood comes not only as a pleasant surprise, but also as an eye-opening and well done effect. You’re not getting the bloody goodness of the slashers, but some very well timed suspenseful scares.

Not having seen a decent supernatural horror film in a while, I am delighted to praise The Pact. With the music revving up at all the right times and the cuts being dead on, the mystery is to die for. I would be happy with a ending that cuts to black a few minutes earlier, but honestly, this film still holds up with the additional running time and does not seem to drag on. Be on the look out for this film, written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy.

Slasher Studios Podcast: Horror Movie Challenge (Part III)

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In October, Slasher Studios will be featuring a horror movie each day. Play along at the Slasher Studios Horror Film Club.

This week:

Day 11: Most psychotic killer
Day 12: The goriest movie
Day 13: Favorite foreign horror
Day 14: The cheesiest horror
Day 15: Great 80’s horror
Day 16: Great indie horror
Day 17: Fav horror franchise

Listen in live or check out an archive: Horror Movie Challenge (Part III)

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 17: Favorite Horror Franchise: “Scream”

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(mini reviews of all 4 in order from best to worst)

1. Scream 2 (1997)
Although at times I feel as though I am in the minority, I truly believe that “Scream 2″ is the best film in the Scream franchise. This is that rare sequel that takes everything that works about its predecessor and manages to take it to another level. The deaths are suspenseful, the characters are charming and likable, and the twist ending works better than it has any right to. I also truly believe that this is some of Craven’s finest directing and the “cop car” scene is a hide-your-eyes-behind-your-fingers chiller of a scene. More than that, this film is just a hell of a lot of fun from beginning to end.

2. Scream (1996)
Scream made horror movies scary again with a brilliantly constructed plot. One year after the death of Sidney Prescott’s (Campbell) mother, two students turn up gutted. When a serial killer appears, Sidney begins to suspect whether her mother’s death and the two new deaths are related. No one is safe, as the killer begins to pick everyone off one by one. Finally, something the horror genre was missing: a good old fashioned murder mystery. The performances all around are first rate from Neve Campbell as the vulnerable to Courteney Cox as the bitchy journalist willing to do whatever it takes to get a story Gale Weathers to David Arquette as the sweet, slightly dimwitted Deputy Dewey to Drew Barrymore’s doomed Casey Becker.

3. Scream 4 (2011)
“Scream 4″ is executed with an artistic flair of wit and style that long time fans and film buffs alike will love. While I sometimes wished there could have been a little more genuine tension and suspense, the final twenty minutes are just so off-the-wall that it makes up for any slow patches. All in all, this is bloody, fun, and very entertaining. The cast is clearly having a ton of fun, and most of them really put on a good show. This may be cinematic junk food but it sure is tasty.

4. Scream 3 (2000)
“Scream 3″ is the kind of movie that has a lot of great ideas mixed in with a few mediocre ideas. The film spends far too much time with Sidney away from the group, alone in the cabin. We want to see Sidney take on evil and put on a good fight. Something that doesn’t happen here until the final act. That being said, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers has never been better. Given a bitter rival to play against, played by a deliciously witty Parker Posey, she shines in every single scene that she is given. Overall, I think “Scream 3″ is a fun film. It may be the worst installment of the franchise but it is still a hell of a lot better than 90% of the horror that is released today.

31 Days of Horror: Day 16: “The Burning” (1981)

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I can’t dare to begin a classic 80′s horror conversation without talking about The Burning. This 1981 work of near perfection really does fire on all
cylinders and keeps the audience enthralled throughout the duration of the 91 minute runtime. The kills are spectacular, the locations are to die for, the cast has the perfect 80 vibe.

The blood and gore within The Burning is top notch as Tom Savini works his magic and gives us some of the most memorable deaths ever to grace the silver
screen. The raft scene is produced with out a flaw and everything from the blood, to the shot selection, to the editing pace was well meshed to create
something very special. Location, location, location. We have all heard this phrase before and so did the locations scouts for The Burning. We are set in a summer camp near and lake and forest. Very classic 80′s. I have always loved the camp feel for a slasher/horror location and is one doesn’t disappoint.the water adds such a boost the the production value and gives great backdrops for the beautiful cinematography.

This is always a fun film to watch because we can look back and see the film debuts of the young Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and Holly Hunter. They all give great performances and who can forget Larry Joshua as the classic jock, Glazer. Glazer adds a ton of fun to this movie and is always great for some comedic relief. I hope this film receives more of a following that it deserves. True horror fans know and appreciate this project but the general public has no clue this film even exists. Personally, I always make it a point to bring up The Burning during a movie conversation with a non horror fan in hopes to convert them to the world of Cropsy!

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 16: Favorite Indie Horror: “Halloween”

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With it being October and only 2 weeks away from our favorite holiday, there is only one movie that comes to mind when speaking of classic indie horror films; the one and only, Halloween. This 1978 slasher from the great John Carpenter helped changed horror as we know it and had an effect on fans young and old. We all know the story of Michael and Laurie and the mayhem that took place, but the people outside of the horror community really don’t understand the importance this film and it’s characters. The fan following Halloween has earned after all these years is extraordinary and has few rivals. Grade school age kids have found this film and fallen in love with it as if they were there opening night to see it the first time.

People young and old gravitate toward this slasher flick and are some of the most dedicated fans around. Slasher Studios has been around the festival circuit and Halloween t-shirts can be found on fans everywhere. Michael Myers art and apparel can be found at almost every other booth and fans dressed up and the Michael himself have become a standard. If you have been to a horror convention, you more than likely saw horror actors signing autographs. Well, when Jamie Lee Curtis attended last year’s HorrorHound Weekend, she took over and was the primary, and most likely the only focus of the of the attendees. This was her first and last horror related appearance and she did it all for charity. The fans stood for ours and days just to get that minute of Jamie Lee time. The dedication was undeniable. So, whether you are a fan or not, and I hope you are, Halloween is more than just a movie. For many slasher fans, it’s a way of life. Halloween has been there for them and they will be there for Halloween. Will there ever be anything like this again? Probably not and that is what makes this film so special. Hard to believe it all started as just an indie slasher..

Not Quite Horror: “No Country for Old Men” (2007)

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Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

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In the month of October, I am celebrating the films of Not Quite Horror legends Joel and Ethan Coen.

The Monster: Anton Chigurh. Despite Chigurh’s awkward appearance and Javier Bardem’s masterful performance, the assassin represents a walking absence of any form of humanity. Chigurh kills efficiently and without remorse. At times he allows a coin flip to decide if a person lives or dies.

The Horror: Chigurh represents a change of pace from previously reviewed films. Perhaps owing to the Coen Brothers staying faithful to Cormac McCarthy’s source novel, the tone surrounding Chigurh lacks the sarcastic/mocking tone of many of their other films. This form of death is blank and pitiless.

The Shared Fate: Chigurgh is a perfect existential figure of dread. Everything from the nightly news to the entirety of human history contains name after name of men and women who harm others with the same lack of regard or emotion.

The Coen Brothers use this film to continue creating a body of work where death is the end, and it never ends things satisfactorily. Chigurh is another of the grim reapers, except no smile graces his face.

– I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 15: Great 80′s Horror: “Humongous”

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“Humongous” is a fun, homage filled 80′s slasher that rips off a dozen other, better slasher films but still manages to be a lot of fun. Remember the scene at the end of “Friday the 13th Part 2″ where Amy Steel pretends to be Jason’s mother? This film sure does as the exact scene is repeated here to lesser effect. That being said, the kills are fun and characters are a tad bit better developed than most of the other 80′s slashers out there. David Wallace is particular is quite strong as our lead twin Eric. Most of the time in 80′s slasher, guys are given nothing to do but not so here. He almost becomes the film girl by being smart, likable, and even given a chance to emote. Lead Janet Julian possesses similar qualities and has a lot of fun with her “last girl standing” appearance. This is a must watch for fans of the early 80′s slasher genre. I can’t say that everyone is going to enjoy the film as much as I did as the film is quite slow and repetitive at times. Nonetheless, it is one of the better examples from the under-appreciated genre.

31 Days of Horror: Day 15: “Hansel & Gretel” (2013)

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I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with most films from Asylum. With over 50 movies in the can, the production company has yet to lose money on a single feature. Often from the time a title is announced to the moment the film is available to purchase is less than six months. This is cynical filmmaking to say the least but there is something ingenious about the business side of this sort of low brow end of movies approach. Is this really anything different than what Roger Corman did in the 60s and 70s? Joe Dante’s Piranha was a shameless rip off of Jaws. The Asylum’s Hansel and Gretel is a shameless rip off of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. The real question to ask…does this rip off work or is it even worse than the “blockbuster” it is trying to capitalize on. Let’s take a bite out of Hansel and Gretel.

As Hansel & Gretel begins we witness an overweight girl tied up in shackles trapped in a dark and dreary basement. She manages to get herself free and she runs out of the house and into the woods only to find herself trapped yet again. An apple in the mouth and some seasonings and she has become the next meal for the family who lives in the house. After “treated” to the opening Saw “homage”, I was already tuning myself out of the film. But then something strange happened. The movie developed a sense of humor about itself and it went from being a chore to sit through to becoming one of the more entertaining movies of the last few years. We have our two heroes (Hansel and Gretel, of course) on a race against time as they battle the delightfully evil Dee Wallace as the witch. But I mean Dee Wallace runs a bakery that sells meat pies called The Gingerbread House. How great is that?

I’m been complaining lately that there haven’t been enough good-bad horror movies lately. Horror movies that aren’t exactly great but are shamelessly entertaining. The Asylum’s Hansel and Gretel completely fits the bill. Not only is this Asylum’s best work to date, it is also their most enjoyable work yet. A terrifically over-the-top performance by Dee Wallace who gets to shout lines like “EAT YOUR FUCKING DINNER!” and “I was always going to eat YOU!” seals the deal. A must watch for slasher fans. I can’t wait to dig in for seconds.

31 Days of Horror: Day 14: “Prom Night III: The Last Kiss” (1989)

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Prom Night III: The Last Kiss is an interesting blend of comedy (very broad Student Bodies style splatstick) and horror, slasher and supernatural, and tongue-in-cheek and clever. It is mostly a lot of fun to watch and Taylor delivers some great zingers as Mary Lou. At 97 minutes, the film is a bit on the long side. At least ten minutes could have been cut from the final act within losing anything storywise. That said, it is consistently funny and quite often very entertaining. The production values are solid throughout and the script is helped out immensely by a game cast that appears to be having just as much fun as we are.

Please note, if you choose to watch this film (and it is indeed recommended), the DVD version released in a double feature DVD along with Prom Night IV: Deliver Us from Evil is a cut TV broadcast version. Most of the gore, swearing, and nudity is all but removed. However in the VHS version it is uncut, with all gore, profanity and nude scenes left intact.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 14: Cheesy Horror: “The Last Slumber Party” (1988)

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Day 14: The cheesiest horror you’ve ever seen

Oh boy, where to begin… The Last Slumber Party is one film that needs to be seen in order to be believed. Cheesy to the max, this movie takes the term, “so bad, it’s good,” to another level. The story takes a few weird turns along the way and viewers are given the privilege of meeting some very memorable characters. A group of middle school kids could rival the overall production value and probably find better actors. The line delivery is atrocious and I love it! I love it almost as much as I love the Sesame Street poster in the teenage girls bedroom.

Although this film is just about as cheesy as it gets, it is one of those films that always seems to put a smile on my face. Just thinking of it now makes me want to watch it again. I can only dream that one day it gets a proper dvd or even blu-ray release that is packed full of extras to answer the extensive list of questions I still have. I need to know more about this film. Where did the filmmakers find these actors? How many days was the shooting schedule? How many hundreds of dollars was the budget? So many unanswered questions…

Even though The Last Slumber Party does everything wrong, in a strange way, that is why this movie is so fun to watch in all it’s amazing 80′s-horror-film glory. The acting and line delivery is cheesy. The camera work and direction is cheesy. The plot and killer is cheesy. And I loved every minute.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 13: Favorite Foreign Horror (Martyrs)

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“Martyrs” is the kind of movie that makes you want to take a shower immediately after viewing it. It is bleak, hopeless, and has a constant theme of despair. It is also brilliant in the way that it is able to depict the suffering that one human being can force onto another. It is gore but it is poetic gore with a clear message for it’s audience. I don’t know that I can or will ever watch this masterpiece again and it is too bad that the ending gets a bit too abstract for its own good but it is still a worthwhile watch. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

31 Days of Horror: Day 13: “Warlock” (1989)

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If you are into cult horror films then you probably already know of Warlock, if not, the this may be a new one for you. Directed by Steve Miner, know for his Friday the 13th fame, Warlock begins in the 1600′s and with the help of a fancy CGI portal, we are taken to the glorious 1980′s. Along for the ride is a witch hunter and the Warlock himself. The Warlock is taken in by the very 80′s Kassandra and it’s not too long before he goes on a bit of a killing spree with the witch hunter on his tail.

The production value is surprisingly high with solid cinematography, costuming, acting and location selection. The effects were also very impressive and fun too watch as Steve Miner really brought this unique film to life. It was able to drag in $9 million plus at the box office and has gained a cult following as of late.

Although this is a well produced project, don’t go in expecting a similar feel and tone to Miner’s Friday films. Warlock is much more serious and plays with a mysterious and slower pace. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, and are a fan of Mr. Miner, grab some popcorn and pop this in tonight.

31 Days of Horror: Day 12: “Blood Junkie” (2010)

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Set in 1989′s Wisconsin and described as a “hyper-hipster 1980s horror comedy”, Blood Junkie tells the story of two teenage girls Laura (Sarah Luther) and Rachel (Emily Treolo) who are babysitting Laura’s little brother for the weekend. Left with $35 (“Do you know how much alcohol you can buy for $35? A LOT!”), the two girls head to the local gas station to get some supplies. It is at the gas station that they meet Teddy (Mike Johnson) and Craig (Nick Sommer), a couple of guys looking to go camping and score for the weekend. Before long the fivesome have made their way to the forest for some sex, drugs, and death.

Can I describe for you in a sentence how this movie looks? The sets look like someone threw up wood chips and the clothes look like they were hand me downs of hand me downs of hand me downs from decades past. This might not be a selling point for many, but for me, this film never loses sight of its 80′s homage style. The performances are all absolutely perfect with special attention paid to the Nick Sommer as hot-shot Craig with one of the ugliest mullets and sweaters around. If anyone could sell this asshole character and make him likeable, it is Sommer. An all around fun time, if you like your slasher films cheap with a good sense of humor about themselves, this is a must watch.

Slasher Studios Interview: Derek/SOV Buff (“Terror Town”)

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Today at Slasher Studios we are chatting with Derek/SOV Buff about his upcoming horror flick Terror Town. The young filmmaker has his film on Indiegogo (check out the link at the bottom) at the moment and the film needs your help in order to get made.

Slasher Studios: What got you into the horror genre and what makes you a fan?
SOV Buff: Um, tough question. I actually just came to the conclusion that Idle Hands was my first horror film at the theater when I thought it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). But my first ever horror film was Scream 2. My dad had a VHS copy that he bought from a local store and I watched it with him. But I never actually started watching horror movies until I hit first grade. I was always scared of them. When my dad always took me to Blockbuster I hid behind his shirt while we walked down the horror aisle. I was so scared of the covers but I always wanted one. The awesome cover art, the names, the number of horror movies on those shelves. When I started getting older my dad and I rented as many horror movies as we could without my mom’s approval. The Blob, Halloween, Friday The 13th Part 4, The Amityville Horror, Child’s Play, and even old ones I could sit down and enjoy like Bride of Frankenstein and Psycho at 7 or 8 years old. But, speaking of Child’s Play, I think that got me into my love for slashers. I always visited my grandmother’s house and she had a Child’s Play 3 doll in her closet that she would always show me and I always cried. But my aunt talked to me about how Chucky isn’t real and he isn’t that scary. She told me the movies were funny. So I got the first one. And then the second. Then the third. And then before you know it I saw Seed in the theater at 8 (?) years old.

Tell the horror fans about Terror Town.
Terror Town is a 15 minute homemade slasher movie that is made by me and my mom’s friend’s 8 year old horror fanatic. Instead of SOV (A VHS camera is roughly $50. We’re just using a cheap canon) we’ll be shooting on a regular camera with a lot of blood and makeup to go with it. The plot is simple. A killer goes around town and slaughters people. How original! Well, for the actors, most of them are young. 9 years old to 14 years old. I’m not going to be present in the film itself but I’ll be the one behind the camera.

Being a shot on video fan, what are some of your favorites from the 80’s?
As said above, sadly we aren’t going with the SOV route. But that would be fun and SOV is kind of making a comeback. Mini Golf Massacre, Slaughter Tales and since Chester Novell Turner was found alive (Black Devil Doll from Hell) he’s going to make horror movies in the future! But yeah, some of my favorites? Um, Black Devil Doll from Hell, Tales from the Quadead Zone, Blood Lake, Woodchipper Massacre, Cannibal Campout and a whole lot of others. SOV just has a certain feel some horror movies don’t. The camera going off and on, the cheesy effects, the horrible acting, the 240p filming style and the awesome cover art.

What are you most looking forward to in the shoot?
Just having fun. I hope I don’t act like one of those strict horror producers who want everything to go as planned. I’ll be serious to the point but I hope a lot of blood will be sprayed and fun will be had.

Are there any horror movies that will be played homage to?
Not especially. Blood Lake is in mind since it’s one of my favorite SOV slashers. But the plot is as simple as the plot in; let’s say…The Leafblower Massacre which released about a year ago independently. I’m a huge fan of that short film and our plot is as simple as theirs.

The film is currently on Indiegogo. What are some of the rewards that backers can obtain if they decide to fund the project?
A lot of stuff. A thank you on our site(s), posters, bloody stills, a DVD copy, a signed copy and a huge poster bundle with 7 posters signed by the cast. We need funds more than anything. We have everything set but we need money for a decent editing system, DVD-R discs, DVD cases, money to print out posters and other stuff. If you could help it’d be very appreciated from Aryssa (producer and writer) and I!

Where do you expect filming to take place?
In my town.

What’s the goal for the film in regards to distribution?
None. It’s a 15 minute horribly made horror film shot on a Canon. We’re not expecting Warner Brothers to buy it.

What’s your all-time favorite horror film?
Suspiria

To become a backer: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/terror-town
To chat with Derek and others about your favorite horror flicks: http://w11.zetaboards.com/Death_Awaits/index/

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 12: Gory Horror (Cabin Fever 2)

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Day 12: Goriest Horror I’ve Seen….Cabin Fever 2

“Cabin Fever 2” is a messy, gory, bloody cherry on top of a demented sundae. From the opening (poor Rider Strong) to the blood bath of an ending, nearly everything about this sequel works. This is one of those slasher movies where I just don’t understand the hate. Had this movie been made in the 1980′s and directed by Sam Raimi, horror fans would be praising this as the next second coming of horror. The gore is demented, the kills are extremely disgusting, and the central love story is actually quite sweet. I was actually touched at the sacrifice that one friend gave so another could live. So the epilogue doesn’t really work (poor Ti West got his movie taken away from him and had his ending completely butchered just to go in some producer cameos) but this is splatstick at its very best. If John Waters directed a horror film in the 1980’s, it would look something like this. Bloody recommended!

31 Days of Horror: Day 11: “Curtains” (1983)

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“Curtains” is a whopper of a slasher film that does nearly everything right. Creepy costume? Check. Intriguing backstory? Check. Likable, if slightly over-the-top, characters? Check. Great death scenes? Double check. I know this movie went though hell in post production. Rumor has it that the film was shelved for a year, during which there were re-writes, re-shoots, and one major re-casting done. Eventually numerous crew members had to be re-hired to shoot the footage to complete the film.

This movie should be a mess. The fact that it isn’t is a miracle in and of itself but the fact that the movie is a damn near masterpiece? Well, let’s just say that the slasher gods must have been looking down on this movie because it is simply incredible. Love the twist at the end, love the figure skater who gets killed by the masked man in the old hag mask, and love the final chase. Sure it isn’t entirely believable and there is a bit of logic that must be stretched thin but that doesn’t stop this movie from being one of the best of its kind. Definitely worth checking out for slasher fans everywhere.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 11: Most Psychotic Killer: Beverly Sutphin (Serial Mom)

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As Serial Mom begins we meet Beverly Sutphin (in a go-for-broke pitch perfect performance by Kathleen Turner). She appears to be a typical suburban housewife living with her dentist husband Eugene (Sam Waterston) and their children, Misty (Ricki Lake) and Chip (Matthew Lillard) in the suburbs of Baltimore. Behind her Doris Day façade, however, she is a serial killer, murdering people over the smallest criticism, insult or slight. We open on the Sutphin family having breakfast and Beverly carefully taking care of family’s every needs until two police officers arrive to question the family about the mail threats and obscene phone calls to a fellow resident of the area, Dottie Hinkle (the wonderful Mink Stole). “Now who on earth would ever want to harass poor Dottie Hinkle,” Beverly states. Well of course it is Beverly. As we see a brief flashback, Beverly is still upset over Dottie stealing her parking spot at Jo Ann Fabrics. No, seriously.

The first murder she is known (the movie plays out like a true crime reenactment complete with time stamps) to commit occurs after Beverly attends a PTA where Mr. Stubbins, Chip’s high school math teacher, criticizes her son’s morbid fascination with violent horror films and recommends therapy for Chip. She runs him over with her car, killing him. How DARE he disrespect the horror genre! Bastard had it coming.

The following morning, Misty is upset when she gets stood up by a date, Carl Pageant, proclaiming her desire to kill him. Beverly cautions Misty about using words she doesn’t mean and subsequently sees the police investigating her trash cans and her car. Beverly skillfully deflects the cops’ questions before her husband asks the cops to leave. Later, seeing Carl with another girl at a local indoor swap meet, Beverly impales him in a men’s restroom with a fireplace poker that Rosemary, who came along, had purchased.

A death by blow torch for not wearing a seatbeat and a killing by rack of lamb to the tune “Tomorrow” from the movie Annie for not rewinding Ghost Dad are two more deaths for Beverly before she is arrested. Now it is on to the trial and this is where the movie really kicks into high gear. Selling everything from Serial Mom t-shirts to Serial Mom books…everyone is off to make a profit off Beverly. Even Suzanne Somers (in a wonderful tongue-in-cheek performance as herself) who plans to play Beverly in the soon to be made mini-series.

Serial Mom is that perfect pitch black satire Hollywood never makes. The film was a bomb on its initial release grossing only $6 million on a $14 million profit and that’s a shame. From the game cast to spot on direction from Waters, everything works. This is the type of movie that you will either find hysterical or you will wonder where all the laughs are. This movie makes me smile like a naughty little kid and I try to watch it every Mother’s Day with my mom. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

Slasher Studios Podcast: Horror Movie Challenge (Part II)

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In October, Slasher Studios will be featuring a horror movie each day. Play along at the Slasher Studios Horror Film Club.

This week:

Day 4: A great horror doctor
Day 5: Favorite horror director
Day 6: Your fav movie by your fav director
Day 7: A great hero
Day 8: Best comedy-horror
Day 9: A boring horror
Day 10: Favorite classic horror

Listen in live or check out an archive: Slasher Studios Podcast: Horror Movie Challenge (Part II)

31 Days of Horror: Day 10: “Tourist Trap” (1979)

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Creepy, Creepy, Creepy. That’s the best way to describe the 1979 horror flick, Tourist Trap. Directed and co-written by David Schmoeller, Tourist Trap follows the adventure of a few young friends who find themselves stranded and at the mercy of an old, shotgun toting and yes, creepy, man. As the group unwisely trusts the old man, Slausen, they go back to his place and find an odd collection of some very life-like mannequins.

The film has a great look and a solid story. Great locations and solid camera work help boost the production value of this 24 day shoot. A 90 minute runtime allows Schmoeller to do a fantastic job capturing the uneasy feel and relaying that to the audience. There are a number of scenes that will make your skin crawl and make you think twice about watching this one alone in the dark next time.

The acting is without any serious problems and it is fun to see a young Tanya Roberts(That 70′s Show) take on a role of this nature. The villain is just about as creepy as they get with help from an amazing mask. This is another mask that needs a be produced for the fans to buy. What a fantastic addition to any horror collection that mask would be.

So if Tourist Trap is one film that you have not seen yet, do yourself a huge favor and see it as soon as you can. This is a truly great late 70′s horror film and one of Slasher Studios personal favorites!

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 10: Favorite “Classic” Horror (Friday the 13th)

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My favorite classic horror film is easily the original Friday the 13th. I fell in love with this film the first time I saw it and I have watched it countless times since then. It had a huge impact on my desire to become a filmmaker and trying different filmmaking techniques. This piece of art has been not only influential on myself, but many, many other horror fans as well. I love the story, the characters, the deaths and just that classic overall 80′s feel.

The setting in Friday is picture perfect. The dense forest, contrasted with the wide open lake, creates cinematic beauty as this backdrop for the film has turned into an instant classic and makes Camp Crystal Lake is instantly recognizable. This setting has been a staple in the horror genre and with such a huge 80′s horror fan base in the world, this will only continue.

I have always been a huge fan of the characters. I really did enjoy them all. The main cast, including Kevin Bacon and Adrian King, had the acting abilities and screen presence to help make this film what it has become. But, in my mind, the real treats are the supporting characters. Sandy from the diner and Crazy Ralph are some of my all-time favorite movie characters and I still find myself quoting their quirky and classic lines.

31 Days of Horror: Day 9: “Jack-O” (1995)

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Directed by Steve Latshaw, Jack-O is the third installment in his horror trilogy. Starring the horror queen, Linnea Quigley, and being sent stright to video in 1995, Jack-O was not fortunate enough to get a wide theatrical release. But with a DVD release in 2005, this film has began to pick up a fan base.

Jack-O is a revenge tale that features a pumpkin-headed, scythe-wielding demon who has risen from his grave to enact revenge. This film has blood, bad acting and boobs. What could go wrong!? Well a few things. It’s interesting because this movie could really fall into the, “it’s so bad, it’s good” category, but I’m not sure if it fits there either. The film isn’t terrible, and in fact I really did have a good time with it, but the flashback and dream sequences were just not for me. I can definitely see that need for something to help tie the past in with the present time, but for me they just became old and boring at times. The present day scenes were much more fun and entertaining. Love the rock throwing scene at the beginning, it’s just so bad…

The villain, however, was great. The look of Jack-O was spot on to what they needed and if things were a bit different and this was perhaps made in a different decade, Jack-O could have been the next great horror franchise. But who knows what the future will hold for Jack-O. Will fans pick this film up and fall in love, or will it just be left in the rear view mirror as we find other lost slasher gems…? Only time will tell.

Not Quite Horror: “A Serious Man” (2009)

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Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

A Serious Man (2009)

The Monster: Larry Gopnik is the monster in this film, but he is a very human and noble monster. There’s nothing wrong with Larry Gopnik, except no one will take him seriously. His wife is leaving him for another man, and her lover wants all three of them to talk about it. He has a smart but unstable brother. He feels threatened by his neighbors.

As the pressure builds, Larry Gopnik must face the real possibility he will never be taken seriously by anyone.

The Horror: Miserable as his life is, Gopnik seems destined to escape his own bad luck when the universe itself seems to drop in on him. He feels the weight of this horror in his office, but his son sees it in the form of a tornado approaching his school. As is Coen Brothers tradition, the search for dignity and meaning are met with shocking confusion.

The Shared Fate: Like Larry Gopnik, we are constantly at the mercy of others. We can try to find a higher authority to appeal to, but none of these authorities can save the average people in Coen Brothers movies. We are doomed to be treated as others see fit to treat us.

Even when his world makes him into a monster, Gopnik tries. He appeals to three rabbis, and he finds no help. The wisest of these rabbis refuses to see him, but shares a very honest – and not serious – moment with Gopnik’s son later in the film. Perhaps we should all be more like the son than the father.

– I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen